A confused or false view of God's Love and acceptance can lead believers down the miserable road of legalsim. In this condition, it is extremely difficult to comprehend the difference between obeying laws and following senseless rituals, and following the leading of the Holy Spirit, Who indwells all True believers. Moreover, this approach to obedience greatly interferes with the joy of the Spirit, as it leaves God out of the equation.
It is vitally important that we come to know this crucial difference. God imputes His Spirit into His children enabling them/us to hear His Voice and respond appropriately to His Spirit's direction: this is the obedience God's Word speaks of and the response He requires.
Living with a legalistic understanding of Scripture replaces God's Divine leading with rules, regulations and meaningless rituals. God wants His Followers to develop a heart that is on fire for HIM; knowing that to hide behind rules is actually a means to elevate the self with feelings of worthiness. This propensity, which aligns perfectly with our human nature, is atagonistic to what God wants to accomplish within us. That's because our relationship with Him is supposed to be all about Him: He is our source, our refuge, our provider, our everything. He is our vindicator, our King and leader in everything we do and we are to rely completely on Him, not ourselves (Psalm 84:11).
Furthermore, Jesus instructs us that we have to go through trials and tribulations simply for being in this world, in John 16:33--
"These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
Jesus makes it clear, troubles are just a part of life. Life is supposed to be hard and we are supposed to cling to HIM for protection, answers and deliverance (Psalm 18:2).
That's right, for those who follow Him; we can 'fly' like the eagle, above our circumstances--
But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint." (Isaiah 40:31)
According to the secular world and even in some Christian circles, we are supposed to rely on ourselves. But Jesus instructed His followers to rely on Him--
“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing." (John 15:5)
In the workplace, it is expected that workers put their best foot forward and do their best through their own efforts.
Of course this system is needed and works well in the varying institutions of the world, but may lead believers into confusion, as God does not follow our worldly ways, nor our means of acknowledgment. Therefore, believers need to learn God's Ways.
Living in this condition explains why so many self-professing believers in Christ rely on works of the flesh and when something bad happens they go immediately to "Why is this happening to me? I'm such a good person! I do good things for God! I don't derseve this!"
Because it stands to reason right? If doing good results in favor with God, then if something bad happens, that must mean we are being punished for our bad behavior. This can lead to missing the message in Proverbs 12:21 and 1Peter 4:12-13 and the aforementioned John 16:33.
Furthermore, in Christ, we have freedom, not freedom to sin, but freedom from sin due to His Sacrifice; not due to our efforts. This principle includes freedom from legalism. We are free from the tedious and oppressive restrictions of the old law system and, therefore, free to hear directly from His Spirit to direct us in a personal way. For what God leads each of us to, He does in accordance with the gifts, talents, emotional needs, desires and limitations of each individual believer, for only He is Perfect and perfectly Fair...
Abiding in legalsim leads to confusion about freedom in Christ and the belief that we have to earn God's Love and Approval, much in the same way we earn a promotion at work.
Galatians 5:1-- "Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage."
Being raised to believe that the bad that happens to us is a direct result of lagging faith is a sad condition to say the least, but these things can be unlearned through a deeper study of His Ways and Principles.
Confusion regarding illness is a good example of this condition. To believe God only heals those who believe places all the power in the lap of the afflicted, and strips God of His due Glory. If God could only heal someone who believes, then it's their faith that's responsible, rather than our Lord God and His Power....2Corinthians 4:7
Further Examination and Review
---This type of thinking takes all the focus off of Christ; keeping it on the self and self accomplishment, rather than the Cross.
---Legalistic thinking results in seeing the good things of God as a reward for good behavior and bad things that happen as punishment, which is not only incorrect; it corrupts the very nature of God's unconditional love for His children and places all the credit for the good things in life in the hands of the believer, while the bad things are seen as punishment
---Further, it keeps much of the focus on rituals like getting our babies baptized and making confession to a priest or working at the church with self-involved motives
---And it keeps us in PRIDE! This thinking keeps pride at the forefront: self, self, self......as though God is supposed to serve us and convolutes the teachings of James, who said "Faith without works is dead," in James 2:16-17, which points to the holy works that God puts on our hearts. We are to obey the Holy Spirit's Leading and serve God with our whole heart and follow those things God puts on our heart to to do for Him; in service of Him. We all have an assignment. We DO have work to do; the God-driven spiritual work He Assigns through His Spirit.
This is the obedience that God desires, not following a bunch of rules which could never inspire a heart on fire for HIM.
Romans 12:11, Luke 3:16, Revelation 3:15-20, Psalm 34:5, Acts 2:3 & Romans 12:1-2
Also see Luke 11:37-54-- Jesus' rebuke of the Pharisees